Al Gelato

al gelato
Originally uploaded by illewminator.
like Porto's Bakery is more than just a bakery, Al Gelato is so much more than just place to get gelato. although the gelato is really, really good, there are so many more delicious things to eat at this reasonably-priced, cozy little eatery in beverly hills. who'd have thought???

the food is so delicious, i forgot to take a picture of our meal before we devoured it, so the only photos i have are of the gelato counter and the dessert case, where you'll find cakes and pies with slices as big as your head. no kidding. i've never seen a lemon meringue pie or an apple pie this big outside of an episode of the flintstones.

but back to the real grub... homemade soups, salads, pastas, pizza, and sandwiches are all great and served in extremely generous portions. the homemade rigatoni is cooked just right and covered with a sweet, tomato basil marinara that i find completely addicting. and the small order is a huge bowl that two people can easily share and still be full. the beef barley soup is also crave-inducing, the pizza fresh and tasty, and the salads crisp and dressed with a sweet but tangy balsamic vinaigrette. i've yet to order a sandwich, but from what i've seen, they are also gi-normous.

when you sit down, you also get a basket of enormous slices of freshly baked bread, thick, chewy and warm, a little dish with a couple different types of olives, and a veggie/pepper relish.

but you really have to try to control yourself here, or else you'll never have room for dessert. i've actually never had room for anything other than gelato for dessert for precisely this reason. but even the gelato portions are big -- you can order one scoop with a "taste" of a second flavor, which is basically a generous scoop-and-a-half. if you get 2 scoops, you'll get about the same quantity of gelato as you'd get from a double scoop of ice cream from the fat guy at the thrifty counter.

definitely not for those on a low-carb diet, al gelato is on robertson just south of wilshire in the low-rent part of beverly hills (if there is such a thing). street parking only, but it's not usually a problem. and i think they're closed mondays.

Porto's Bakery

Originally uploaded by illewminator.
yes, porto's is a cuban bakery, but it's oh-so-much more! located in glendale, porto's is my #1 favorite neighborhood breakfast, lunch, coffee, and dessert grub spot. in addition to a beautiful assortment of cakes in a rainbow of colors and flavors, porto's is also well-known for their freshly baked breads, cuban pastries, and cuban pressed sandwiches.

on weekends, be prepared to stand in line, but the newly-expanded porto's is now twice the size. for food orders, you go to the new side -- cakes and bread orders are still on the old side -- where the cordoned line is a vast improvement over the old take-a-number system that resulted in hordes of people all eagerly pressed up against the pastry counter waiting to get their hands on some freshly baked grub.

my favorite menu items include:
- midnight sandwich with ham croquettes: a pressed/grilled sandwich with roast pork, ham, swiss cheese and ham croquettes all squished between a sweet bread roll.
- pan con lechon: a tender, juicy roast pork sandwich with a garlic mojo sauce on cuban bread.
- potato balls: a ball of mashed potatoes with a spiced ground beef center, dusted in a light flour breading and deep fried... so good when they're hot and eaten with a dash of tapatio!
- pretty much anything from the pastry counter, but some notables include the guava cheese strudel, the sweet cream cheese stuffed pastry rolls, and the buttery, flaky croissants (plain, chocolate or almond filled, or with strawberries and cream cheese).
- cuban coffee - i like mine milky and sweet, so i usually get the cafe con leche, which is made to order and involves more strategic maneuvering to get to the counter to get your drink orders.

as you can see in the photo, our meal consisted of a little of everything -- clockwise from the top are the potato balls; dessert plate, consisting of a fruit tart, white chocolate raspberry cheesecake, and triple chocolate mousse; midnight sandwich with croquettes; and lechon sandwich. with drinks, the bill for the three of us (we had another lechon sandwich, too) came to about $30. and we were totally stuffed after eating all this.

and i haven't even started on the desserts... the fruit tarts are beautiful and delicious, the chocolate opera cake is dense and rich... suffice it to say that i haven't had a bad item, yet.

oh, and here's an exclusive grubclub tip: porto's is best to go with at least one other person, but even better with 3-4 people, so that you can use the lew family tested and approved "divide and conquer strategy for eating in crowded places." here's how it works (also described in NuttinButGlutton's posting last summer on dining at the redondo beach pier) one person stands in line to place the order, a second person scouts and holds an available table, and the third person is "the runner" who helps the first person to pick up the food, drinks, napkins, plasticware, and assorted condiments and bring them back to the table.

porto's is located in glendale on brand blvd, a few blocks south of the 134. they're only open for breakfast and lunch, so don't bother trying to go after mid-afternoon. and if you try to go on any major family holiday (thanksgiving, christmas, easter), you'd better order your cakes and bread well in advance -- and good luck getting in the door.


The Hat

hat chili fries
Originally uploaded by illewminator.
If you go to The Hat, you'd better be prepared for cardiac arrest -- or at least some seriously artery-clogging fare.

The Hat is a chain featuring their signature hot pastrami dip sandwiches, burgers, fries, and other stuff that you know is bad for you, yet you crave every so often.

Pictured above is our humongous order of chili cheese fries with a side of gravy and a half of a pastrami dip sandwich. Suffice it to say that you'd better have at least 3-4 people to finish off one order of chili fries and we usually split the pastrami sandwich between 2 people. If you're really hungry, you could finish off a whole sandwich by yourself, but you might regret it afterwards.

The Hat's pastrami is not the best quality pastrami to be had in LA, but it's probably the cheapest and quite possibly the only place you can get it with a side of chili cheese fries and an horchata ole (plus all the condiments you can snag from their seemingly endless supply).

The Hat can be found in various locations throughout the San Gabriel Valley.

Mitsuru Grill

Originally uploaded by illewminator.
long favored by city hall bureaucrats and elderly nisei, mitsuru grill is an old-school style J-town hangout with food that just might remind you of eating at your (JA) grandma's house.

it all starts with the ubiquitous dish of complimentary tsukemono, regardless of what you order or the time of day. tsukemono is salted, pickled cabbage that's a staple in every elderly JA's home. [my grandma would always have a jar (or 2 or 5) in the fridge at varying levels of pickled-ness and another batch in process out on the counter.]

mitsuru serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and has japanese, japanese/hawaiian/american, and plain old american fare. i've tried items from each genre and have found the grub to be solid and dependable.

my personal favorites include:
for breakfast - gacha (pictured above with portuguese sausage) with rice. basically, it's scrambled eggs with spinach, onions, and your choice of meats (bacon, ham, wiener, spam, or portuguese sausage). i've had both the p.s. and spam gacha and both are winners.

for lunch/dinner - honey stung fried chicken, broiled salmon collars, or broiled mackeral. the fried chicken and salmon collars are not on the regular menu, but can be found on daily specials menu, when they're available.

i also like the chirashi and think the jo-chirashi (big chirashi bowl) is a pretty good deal, for the amount and variety of fish you get. their sushi, in general, is ok -- not great, but ok. i don't like the spicy tuna here and would not recommend it, but as i've written before, i'm not a spicy tuna fan in general.

their ramen is also reliable -- i've heard other people say it's among the best in little tokyo, but i don't know about that... you can also get a regular old hamburger, tuna melt, patty melt, ham sandwich, or club sandwich -- all of which are pretty straightforward, but seem a little like what you'd get if your grandma made it for you.

that said, mitsuru grill is one of the go-to places i always rely on when meeting people for breakfast or lunch in little tokyo. it's pretty much a given that anyone can find anything they'll like here. an added bonus are the comfy/roomy booths in the back of the restaurant, large enough to seat 6 comfortably.

mitsuru grill is located on first street, just east of the corner of first and san pedro in little tokyo.


Hot Dog Reviews

......from Steve Lew

Here are my hot dog reviews.

Taste Chicago - 603 N. Hollywood Way, Burbank. Joe Mantegna (Joan of Arcadia) owns it, and he place claims to have authentic Chicago foods. Maybe the sandwiches, Italian dishes, and pizza are good. But I tried the hot dog last month and it was lukewarm, mushy, and tasted diluted (like it was boiled too long and the flavor leached out into the water.) Maybe Hot Dog Flavored Water is a Chicago thing.

Papoo's Hot Dog Show - 43 Riverside Dr., Burbank. Nothing too special. Regular non-skin dogs that are grilled. Chili is watery like ground beef in tomato soup.

Larry's - 3122 W. Burbank (between Buena Vista and Hollywood Way), Burbank. Non-skin hot dog has flavor. Good chili is not as thick or spicy as Pink's. French fries are very good - crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, and a sprinkled with a lot of seasoned salt.

Nathan's - 9216 W. Pico, LA. This place seems to be related to the real Nathan's back east, but I was disappointed. I've had a Nathan's dog when I was back east. The west coast dog was good, but not as tasty and "snappy" as the east coast version. However, the dog is not worth the effort b/c parking is really scarce in that area (the neighborhood is permit parking only), and the store was messy and disorganized.

Anyways, the search for the perfect (chili) hot dog continues . . .


God's creatures

Originally uploaded by Nuttin But Glutton.

Hawaiian Food Eateries in So. Cal

In the spirit of sharing all things grub-related, here's a really extensive listing of Hawaiian eateries in Southern California (LA, the OC, and San Diego). Be forewarned that this list is several years old, so i'm not sure if all of these are still around. But please post comments to let me know if some are gone and i'll update this list.

d'bugga ono!!!!!


Los Angeles County

Aloha Cafe Hawaiian Restaurant
1944 S. Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754-6302
Phone: (213) 728-9110

Aloha Food Factory
2990 W. Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803-1819
Phone: (818) 308-0215

Aloha Teriyaki
4834 W. Rosecrans Avenue (corner of Rosecrans and Inglewood), Hawthorne, CA
Phone: (310)644-2330

The Beach Hut
3920 Highland Avenue, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Phone: (310) 545-8911

The Beach Hut II
1342 Hermosa Avenue Hermosa Beach, CA 90254
Phone: (310) 376-4252

B-Man's Teriyaki & Burgers
3007 E. Huntington Drive #102, Pasadena, CA 91107 (corner of San Gabriel Bl.
& Huntington Drive)
Phone: (626) 568-0386

Bob's Hawaiian Style Okazuya
16814 S. Vermont Avenue, Gardena, CA 90247-5619
Phone: (310) 515-2250

Bruddah's Hawaiian Foods
1033 W. Gardena Blvd, Gardena, CA 90247-4957
Phone: (310) 323-9112

Cherrystones Grill & Grotto
15501 S. Vermont Avenue, Gardena, CA 90247-4100
Phone: (310) 329-8200

Gardena Bowl Coffee Shop
15707 S. Vermont Avenue, Gardena, CA 90247-4328
Phone: (310) 532-0820

Golden Ox
23401 S. Normandie, Torrance CA
Phone: (310) 539-3845

Hang Loose
1126-30 Redondo Beach Blvd., Gardena, CA 90247
Phone: (310) 532-6310

Harry's Aloha Chop Suey
1721 W Redondo Beach Blvd, Gardena, CA 90247-3223
Phone: (310) 324-4231

Hawaii BBQ
16649 Sherman Way
Van Nuys, 91406
Phone: 818-780-8838
Open Daily: 10:00am-9:00pm.

Hong Kong Gardens (Deli in the back)
21718 Vermont (cross street Carson) Gardena, CA 90247
Phone: (310) 320-8802

Kappa Coffee Shop
15116 S. Western Avenue, Gardena, CA 90249-4313
Phone: (310) 324-6129

Kau Kau Korner (Inside Marukai Market Food Court)
1740 W Artesia Blvd., Gardena, CA 90247-3233
Phone: (310) 515-5110

Kings Hawaiian Bakery & Restaurant
2808 Sepulveda Blvd, Torrance, CA 90505-2803
Phone: (310) 530-0050

L&L's Hawaiian BBQ
Puente Hills Mall 1600 Azusa Avenue #169J, City of Industry 91748
Phone: (626) 581-3338

The Loft at Punaluu
15607 S. Normandie Avenue, Gardena, CA 90247
Phone: (310) 523-4191

The Loft at Lahaina
17311 Yukon Avenue, Torrance, CA 90504-2316
Phone: (310) 523-3373

The Loft
20157 S. Pioneer Blvd., Cerritos, CA 90715 (in Ralph's Center)
Phone: (562) 402-3538

16400 S. Western Avenue, Gardena, CA 90247-4636
Phone: (310) 329-4441

Miki Chan's Okazuya
2529 Via Campo, Montebello, CA 90640-1806
Phone: (213) 722-0519
Pacific Islander QSR
2540 S. Figueroa Street (at Adams), Los Angeles, CA 90007
Phone: (213) 746-2888

Paradise Okazuya
1631 W. Carson Street, Torrance, CA 90501-3846
Phone: (310) 328-5345

Rascal's Eat In Take Out
15482 S. Western Avenue, Gardena CA 90249-4325
Phone: (310) 516-8814

Rascals Teriyaki Grill
5111 Torrance Blvd., Torrance
310 542-0022

Rutt's Inn
12114 Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90066
Phone: (310) 398-6326

2300 S. Garfield Avenue, Monterey Park, CA 91754-7200
Phone: (213) 888-2695

Spike's Teriyaki Bowl Restaurants
Look for a location near you!

Teri's Place
2140-D Artesia Blvd., Torrance CA 90504 ( In the Del Wee Shopping Center
Strip Mall)
Phone (310) 327-2006

Teri Hawaii
1425 W. Artesia Blvd. #34 Gardena, CA 90248
Phone (310) 327-0307

Teriyaki Magic
3901 Ingelwood Avenue #105, Redondo Beach, CA Near the 405 Frwy; between
In-n-Out and Petco
Phone: (310) 973-3500

Three Brothers Drive Inn
23722 Western Avenue, Harbor City, CA 90710-1321
Phone (310) 326-3843

Orange County

Aloha Chicken
5123 Ball Road, Cypress, CA 90630-3610
Phone: (714) 821-3610

Aloha Chicken
10488 Valley View Blvd., Buena Park, CA 90620
Phone: (714) 826-6672

Fuji's (Behind Coco's, near Edinger Street, west of Beach Blvd.)
15885 Gothard Street, Huntington Beach CA 92647
Phone (714) 891-6066

Island Grill
4390 Katella Avenue, Los Alamitos, CA 90720-3565
Phone: (562) 431-4696

Jr's Kitchen
5633 Lincoln Avenue, Cyrpess, CA
Phone: (714) 229-0432

L&L's Hawaiian BBQ
19692 Beach Blvd.,Huntington Beach, CA 92648
Phone: (714) 968-1898

Matiki Island Barbecue
3070 W. Lincoln Avenue #Q, Anaheim, CA 91801
Phone: (714) 821-5228

San Diego County

Da Kine's Plate Lunch - Owner Nelson Y Ishii
4120 Mission Blvd. #208 (The Promenade), San Diego, CA 92109
Phone: (858) 274-8494

Da Kine's Plate Lunches - South Bay
1635 Sweetwater Road #H National City, CA 91950
Phone: (619) 474-8494

Island Boy Grille
10066 Pacific Heights Blvd., Sorrento Mesa San Diego, CA
Phone: (619) 452-7708

Island Boy Grille
554 4th Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101 in the Gaslamp Quarter
Phone: (619) 702-8343

137 West D Street, Encinitas, CA 92024
Phone: (760) 94-ALOHA

Sushi Kaisen
1910 Oceanside Blvd., Oceanside, CA
Phone: (760) 757-1484


KP's Vietnamese American Deli

jenny sandwich
Originally uploaded by illewminator.
vietnamese sandwiches have arrived in silverlake! i was so excited to try out this new place, i invited several friends to come along for my weekday lunch excursion. to my amazement, five friends in various stages of employment managed to free themselves to join me for lunch this particular tuesday, which also happened to be KP's third day of official business.

we found KP's sandwiches to be quite tasty... and also quite large -- much larger than what you'd get at most other vietnamese establishments. we sampled the cold cut sandwich (KP's Kold Kuts), which is the most typical, traditional type of vietnamese sandwich (and which we ordered to give us a good idea of how KP would perform on standard menu items, even though i'm not really a big fan of this particular item -- i usually call it the "mystery meat" sandwich, since some of the cold cuts are semi-unidentifiable).

but even though it's not my personal favorite, it was pretty good, with good sized portions of the various mystery meats, the ubiquitous pate, and generous portions of pickled daikon and carrots filling the sesame crusted baguette. we got the sliced jalapenos on the side, but ended up using all of them, anyway (i'm kind of a wimp and take out the seeds before putting the peppers in my sandwich). they really do help give the sandwich a little kick, so i'd definitely recommend using them -- even if you have to remove the seeds to cut down on the heat.

we also sampled the pulled chicken sandwich and found it to be good, too, although we all thought the chicken could use a bit more spices/flavoring. but we did like the judicious use of mayonnaise and, again, the generous portions of pickled veggies and the freshly baked sesame baguette.

other pluses: KP and his staff are very pleasant, friendly people who seem like they'd be cool folks to just hang out with. after we offered our feedback on the chicken sandwich to his staff, KP came out and chatted with us and thanked us for our comments, offering a free chicken sandwich the next time i come, promising to kick up the spices on it.

the deli is quite small, but clean and nicely laid out, with a few small tables just outside the door (KP also says sidewalk tables are coming soon). AND, KP's has free wi-fi, so you can bring your laptop while you enjoy your sandwich and iced coffee.

sandwiches are $6, which is considerably more expensive than the $1.50 or $1.75 sandwiches you can get at most "authentic" vietnamese shops in chinatown, the SGV or the OC, but still in line with your typical sandwich price. there are also "american" style sandwiches, salads, and vegetarian menu options. dessert options include flan or a "flan shooter," basically a mini portion of flan in a small plastic cup to satisfy your sweet tooth without the guilt.

for the convenience of being able to walk to KP's, and the pleasant and friendly atmosphere, the free wi-fi (and to collect on my free chicken sandwich), i will definitely go back to KP's.

KP's address is 2616 hyperion ave., 90027, near the corner of hyperion and griffith park blvd. parking can be difficult, but you can call in your order and do a drive by and they'll bring it out to the curb for you.


free ice cream!